Miller Electric Powers Surge Tents to Treat Coronavirus Patients at UNMC

These are trying times. All of us are taking additional measures to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety has always been a priority at Miller Electric. So, taking extra steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers was one of the first responses we had to the pandemic.

Safety doesn’t stop with our employees and customers.

We care about keeping our community safe as well. Recently, we had an opportunity to help with a project for a longstanding client of ours, Nebraska Medicine, that allowed us to contribute directly to our community’s efforts to prepare for the pandemic.

Nebraska Medicine Leads the Way with Surge Tents

Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) are leaders in pandemic treatment, training and quarantining methods. They’ve been in the news before for providing relief during the Ebola outbreak and have again taken a leading role in responding to COVID-19.

When UNMC decided to install tents as a means of preparing for a possible increase in COVID-19 patients, it called Miller Electric for help getting them up and running.

“UNMC’s facilities lead contacted our team for help getting them set up and powered appropriately,” says Rick Stratman, Sr. Electrical Field Manager for Miller Electric. “Each of the three tents we erected needed to be fully equipped with electricity, internet, heat and air conditioning.”

The tents arrived on a cold Monday morning, bare and unassembled.

“I arrived first onsite and quickly brought one of our foremen, Matt Christensen, in to assess our manpower needs. The tents came with nothing, so we actually went beyond our traditional electrical construction work to build the tents themselves,” says Stratman. “We had guys helping erect the tents, hang the roof panels, sidewall, frames and all.”

Tent Work Offers Break From Routine

The first few days brought construction work in framing and building that had nothing to do with electricity or low voltage wiring, which Stratman says his team was happy to do.

“It was a nice break from the routine.”

As the team put up the tents, Stratman and team got to work right away ordering the necessary supplies that would allow Miller Electric to outfit the tents once constructed.

“I quickly purchased what we needed to install multiple light fixtures throughout the tents and illuminate the patient areas. We needed to set up receptacles at every tenant bay that were complete with electrical circuiting, network cabling and lighting,” says Stratman. “Matt and I ordered what we thought would work and were thankful it got here so quickly, with the shipping challenges facing our country during the coronavirus crisis.”

Nuts and Bolts

Beyond building the tents themselves, Stratman says the project had some interesting electrical features.

“We built a structure to house the IT equipment. Then we brought electrical service out of an adjacent building and set up temporary panel boards outside. From there, we ran power and fiber optic lines, which were secured with copper connections, to each tent,” says Stratman. “All the patient areas needed internet and data connections, which was an interesting element to fulfill.”

Project Provided Opportunity for Teamwork, Showcased Generosity

Stratman remembers discovering early on that a few components were missing from one of the tents. He quickly called a familiar vendor, Hempel Sheet Metal, to see if they could fabricate replacement components.

“Hempel fabricated the parts we needed and got them installed within one day,” says Stratman. “When they learned what the parts were for, they donated their time and materials, saying they just wanted to be part of giving back to the community and helping out during this time of need. It was a great sentiment.”

Overall, Stratman says the entire project ran smoothly and showcased both cooperation and goodwill.

“I was really impressed with the level of coordination and how easy it was for everyone to work together with a common goal in mind. It was such an elaborate project, but it flowed so smoothly. Everyone pitched in, whether it was in their wheelhouse or not. It felt very good to be part of.”